The Egyptian Ministry of Education has launched a new campaign to promote English language education in Egypt’s primary and high schools. The hope is that students will let go of their fear of foreign languages and speak without hesitation – to speak until they are seen.
In an ironic faux pas, the campaign appears to have given itself a title in grammatically incorrect English: “Speak to see you.” It’s a literal translation from the new initiative’s Arabic motto (تكلم حتى أراك), and the meaning doesn’t exactly carry over from the original English so well.
A host of Egypt’s On Live TV’s Morning News show raised the issue when she interviewed the head of the initiative, Reda Hegazi, noting that the title didn’t really make sense in English.
“It’s a great initiative, but I have one little comment” she told Hegazy live on air. “The title is ‘speak to see you’ - maybe I’m wrong here, but I think that in English that’s an incorrect phrase.”
She went on to add that the title should be corrected to “speak that I might see you”. An improvement for sure, but not quite there yet. Hegazy appeared to brush off the comment, instead focusing on the message of the campaign – which is to encourage young people to speak English fearlessly and with confidence.
A more accurate translation of the Arabic might be “Speak so I can see you” or “Speak up and be seen”. It’s good advice for any language learner, but one can only hope that campaign will take another look at its phrasing sometime soon.